Poland shuts down 13 escape room game sites after fire kills five teenage girls

Officials checking more than 1,000 ‘locked room’ entertainment venues following blaze

Adam Forrest
Sunday 06 January 2019 18:10
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Police: 5 girls die in Poland Escape Room fire

Polish officials have shut down 13 escape rooms for safety flaws after five teenage girls were killed in a fire at one of the popular game sites in the city of Koszalin on Friday.

More than 200 of Poland’s 1,100 escape rooms – entertainment venues in which people are locked inside and try to find a way out by searching for clues – have been checked since Friday.

Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has vowed to shut down any sites that do not meet safety standards.

The government has pledged to check all 1,100 escape rooms and Interior Minister Joachim Brudzinski has urged parents to report potential violations to firefighters and police. “Sanctions need to be harsh,” said Mr Brudzinski.

Fire chief Leszek Suski said the escape room at a private house in Koszalin, where the 15-year-old girls died while celebrating a birthday, had no emergency evacuation route.

They were the first known deaths in an escape room, a pastime that has been growing across Poland over the past five years.

Firefighters found the victims’ bodies after they extinguished a fire next to the locked room. Autopsies showed that the girls, who were friends from school, died of carbon monoxide inhalation. A young man employed there was hospitalised with burns.

Prosecutors say a leaky gas container inside a heater is the most likely cause of the blaze.

Police chief Jaroslaw Szymczyk said other people had previously posted critical remarks online about the safety of that escape room site, but local officials were not notified.

The 28-year-old who designed and runs the venue has been detained and will be questioned, Mr Szymczyk said. His injured employee is also going to be questioned.

During a memorial Catholic Mass at Koszalin Cathedral, Bishop Edward Dajczak identified the girls by their first names as Julia, Amelia, Gosia, Karolina and Wiktoria.

Public prayers were planned later Sunday in front of the house where they died.

Mr Morawiecki​ spoke after holding a meeting in which they discussed with other officials ways of improving safety at entertainment venues. The prime minister called the girls’ deaths an “immense tragedy.”

Additional reporting by Associated Press

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